Hawaii Warriors On Mainland To Face BYU Cougars

By: Willie Bee | Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bronco Mendenhall's defense is definitely in synch as the Brigham Young Cougars head into their fifth game of the season this Friday against the Hawaii Warriors.

Now, about that offense.

Brigham Young backers hope to see a huge improvement from BYU's offense in this week's contest considering they'll be laying 27½ points in the contest.  Friday's total is 50½ after opening three points higher.  ESPN will televise the match starting at 8:00 p.m. (ET).

In what might go down as the most exciting 7-6 college football game since Rice beat then-No. 1 Texas A&M in 1957, BYU lost its bid to pick up its first win ever over Boise State a week ago.  The scoreless tie was broken in the third quarter by the Broncos on an interception return, and BSU then foiled Mendenhall's choice to go for two late in the fourth quarter when Brigham Young finally got on the board.

Normally associated with high-octane offenses, BYU (2-2 straight up & against the spread) was limited to 200 total yards on the blue carpet in the tough loss.  That defeat came on the heels of another disappointing setback a week earlier as the Cougars rallied at Utah State only to fall short of forcing overtime when they missed a couple of field goal tries at the end of regulation.

Brigham Young ranks in the bottom third of the country in total offense (367.5 ypg), and could be without QB Riley Nelson for Friday's game.  The 6th-year senior is questionable with a back injury after a horrible performance in the loss to Boise State with a fumble and three interceptions, one of which accounted for the Broncos' only points.

Freshman Taysom Hill replaced Nelson in the fourth quarter and directed the Cougs on their only scoring drive, but finished the evening just 4-of-10 for 42 yards.  Nelson's availability for Friday will be a game-time decision according to offensive coordinator Brandon Doman.

Mendenhall certainly has no complaints about his defense that ranks seventh in the country allowing under 250 yards per game.  Brigham Young's stop unit has also limited opponents to just 68.7 yards per game on the ground (9th) and 12.5 points per game (12th).

Those rankings don't figure to drop any against what has also been a woeful offense for Norm Chow and Hawaii.  The Warriors (1-2 SU, 2-1 ATS) are near the bottom of FBS schools averaging 337 yards per game, less than 200 of that through the air.  A big chunk of their 29.3 points per game came in a 54-2 rout of FCS Lamar nearly two weeks ago.

Chow's defense hasn't been much better and could provide BYU with excellent opportunities to break out of its offensive doldrums.  Hawaii's two FBS opponents, Southern Cal and Nevada, put up 118 points combined, though the Warriors did manage to cover against the Trojans who were 44-point favorites in a 49-10 opening week victory.

These schools saw each other a lot in the 1980s and 1990s, with BYU making 20 trips to the islands over the years compared to the Warriors coming to Provo eight times.  There was a 9-year layoff before the teams got together in Hawaii last season, a 41-20 Brigham Young win and cover.  The Cougars are 20-8 all-time, and a perfect 8-0 at home.

It should be a pleasant evening for the fans on hand at LaVell Edwards Stadium.  The thermometer should be in the low-70s for the start of the game under clear skies, cooling into the 50s as the game progresses.

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